Q: So what is this whole Radio business?
A: I guess the inception of Radio came from realizing The differences of roast styles from around the world and why they varied so much; a roaster would be naturally inclined to design a roast profile based on where they live and the nature of their water source. For instance, the “Scandinavian” roasting style is typically short, fast and light, and the water in the region is typically really light in mineral content, given it is glacial melt. At our cafe and in our lab, we’re rocking with water dialed in to the SCAA spec of 150 parts per million (a challenge given the high mineral content here in San Jose), and we've taken to roasting a little longer and darker than a “Scandinavian” style.
We started talking about this a year ago and have a lot to say about it, you can read more about it and the specific on how we’re roasting and brewing HERE.
Q: And what are the results?
A: Playing with different waters has opened up new roasting styles to us. When those lighter roasted coffees that suggested floral, stone-fruit qualities suddenly started screaming at us at the top of their lungs
“Why don't ya go walk through a rose garden in full bloom and stop and stick yer nose into every one of em!"
“Fresh ripe white peach picked right off the tree on a hot summer's day and eaten under shade of same and so soft there's juices running down your face"
We took the idea and ran. We started roasting shorter, faster and lighter than we thought possible.
Q: OK, so you're having fun with water science and roasting, but what is Radio?
A: Basically Radio is us taking these ideas and applying them to our coffee program. Our current offerings are roasted with the goal of optimizing the sweetness that the coffee has to offer, so we focus our development towards the later part of the roast, allowing for sugars-browning and caramelization to balance the livelier enzymatic (origin) qualities.
With the introduction of Radio, we are shifting our focus to the acidity and enzymatic qualities, making these coffee show more of their qualities in the realm of fruited acidity and pungent floral notes, with the result being more akin to a fruit juice than coffee. These are coffees of distinction, that we think are highly expressive across a wide spectrum of roasting and brewing variables. This endeavor required some effort to better control our variables. We modified our espresso machine so each group can run off of a different water source, we’ll keep a couple on their current water source for our established offerings, and run a separate, lighter water to the other group so we can pull our Radio offerings right along side.
Q: Sounds good, but how will you be serving it?
For the time being, we’ll be serving these coffees on the espresso bar only - the construction of our espresso machine, and the way we've been serving espresso made our single origin slot the perfect fit for serving the Radio coffees.
Additionally, we've come to find that these coffees tend to behave differently than what we have so far considered espresso; while we've certainly made some tasty milk based drinks with these coffees, they didn't exactly sing to us and we wanted to explore these coffees in different ways. We've created a new menu of drinks built around the specific qualities of the drinks HERE.
Q: Those retail bags sure look different!
A: We’ll be offering these coffees in 10 ounce retail bags. The attention to detail and ability to experiment more freely with the different variables and possible parameters opens up the opportunity for more of you home brewers to join in on the fun of everything these coffees can be. Given their intensity and wild character, we view this more as a journey in experiencing these coffees free of additives such as milk or sugar to really see clearly the flavor, acidity, and sweetness that can spring forward, and as a result, this may be a brew that you’re tinkering around with after you've already had your morning cup. If there are any discoveries that you make, we would be more than happy to discuss your results to continue this ever growing and ongoing project in learning more about the complexity and beauty that coffee has to offer.